Chavez No Se Va: ("Chavez Isn't Leaving"-Election Victory Slogan)
AS THE ENTIRE WORLD held its breath over the outcome of this year's US presidential election, the most important election of 2012 was already in the books--and the Left won.
On October 7, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was re-elected, taking over 54 percent in a vote that featured a coherent, united opposition campaign and a record voter turnout of over 80 percent.
Despite tall tales and smears from a virulently hostile media--both at home and abroad--challenger Henrique Capriles had no choice but to concede defeat immediately; all credible observers agreed the voting process itself was beyond reproach.
This election extends the lease on life of Latin America's "pink tide" of progressive change, driven, over the past decade, by the combination of robust social movements and Left (or centre-left) governments in power. Venezuela has been central in establishing and spreading the alternative trade and economic integration partnership known as ALBA (Bollvarian Alliance of the Americas), as well as building new political instruments like UNASUR which have countered the old, discredited Organization of American States.
The wave of social change that has swept Latin America in the last decade might never had happened at all, if the masses of Caracas had not intervened to overturn an attempted coup against Chavez in April 2002.
Chavez's latest term runs until 2019, with many variables and dangers looming, given his recent bout with cancer, regional elections ahead, and other challenges.
It's fair to say that Chavez's solid voter support is due in no small part to the concrete improvements to the lives of the poor and working classes, although Venezuela's "Bolivarian Revolution" remains rife with contradictions.
Chavez has been among the few world Leaders denouncing false solutions to climate change and weak, non-binding international "agreements" on emissions, yet at home revenues are fuelled by the heavy, Tar-Sands-like oil exports from the Orinoco Belt. And then there are the absurd subsidies to the domestic market that make gasoline dirt cheap. …